How would you like to fix meals at home in less time than it takes to go out for fast food?  By planning ahead you can prepare quick and easy meals at home. Being prepared is the key.  If your kitchen is well-stocked you will always have the ingredients for a healthy meal. 

Follow these 5 ways to simplify your meals

1. Write down a tentative menu for the week to see what ingredients you need to buy.

2. Keep an on-going shopping list on your refrigerator and when you use the last food item or the second to the last food item - add it to your list.  Always take your list with you to the store.

3. When you roast chicken, beef, or pork - freeze leftovers unless using later in the week.

4. Make double recipes and freeze half for another meal when you're too busy to cook.

5. Factor leftovers into your weekly menus and if your family doesn't like to eat leftovers than freeze leftover foods immediately to save for another meal at a later date.  But don't put your foods in the freezer and forget about them.  Plan days for eating out of the freezer to make sure you don't waste.

For quick and easy meal planning, include foods from several of the food groups at each meal.  For example:

  • Whole grains, such as cereal
  • Fat-free or low-fat milk
  • Fruit, such as fresh blueberries
  • Nuts, such as chopped walnuts


  • Protein foods, such as fish, lean meat, poultry, tofu, or beans
  • Vegetables, such as salad or steamed veggies
  • Starches, such as pasta or rice or bread or potatoes
  • Fruit

Planning quick and easy meals will help you save money, too.  Here are a few tips to help you save money while keeping your kitchen well-stocked:

  • Take advantage of shopping at local farmers' markets.
  • Plant your own garden to save on fresh produce.
  • Choose seasonal produce at your grocery store.
  • Review your grocery store's flyer for weekly specials and incorporate these into your weekly menus.
  • Sit down with your grocery store flyer, coupons and shopping list and map out your strategy before you get to the store. Arrange your grocery list according to the sections of your store to save time.
  • Never shop when you're hungry. You'll spend more on impulse buying and blow your budget quickly.
  • Buy generic/store brands which are less expensive than heavily advertised brands.
  • Buy in bulk and freeze in smaller portions for later use.
  • Eat vegetarian meals that center around inexpensive beans instead of meat.